Universities Scotland is proud that our member institutions are host to over 28,000 students from outside the UK. They are an important part of our university community, and the breadth of their contribution to Scotland’s social and cultural life was summarised in Richer for It. Scottish students benefit from learning alongside international peers, and our international alumni are an astonishing resource of ‘soft power’ for our nation. At an economic level, international students contribute over £300m per year to Scotland’s economy through their fees, and over £400m per year through off-campus expenditure.
Universities Scotland was concerned at suggestions in the Home Secretary’s speech to the Conservative Party Conference that opportunities to attract talented international institutions may be restricted by course or by institution. Every one of Scotland’s 19 higher education institutions provide consistently high quality education which is rigorously assessed by the Quality Assurance Agency. Every higher education institution is closely assessed by the Home Office to ensure that international students are fully compliant with its visa requirements. International students already have to meet high standards of academic proficiency and demonstrate that they have the financial means to support themselves whilst in the UK.
Universities Scotland is strongly opposed to further restriction of our members’ ability to attract international student talent. We believe Scotland benefits from this talent, and that international students should have an enhanced entitlement to offer their skills to our economy. We will work to influence the Home Office so that international student policy supports the full range of quality-assured institutions’ in Scotland to welcome international students to our diverse range of courses.